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Fletcher and Jean Howington Family papers

Identifier: MSS-1627

Scope and Contents

The Arthur Fletcher Howington Family Papers span four generations of the Howington and Griffith families. The papers cover 1826-1999, with the bulk related to Fletcher Howington's career during 1938-1978.

This collection is arranged in the following series: Correspondence, Diaries and Daybooks, Family Materials, Ministry Activities, Sermons, Church Administration, Church Bulletins, Financial and Legal Records, Photographs, Griffith and Howington Family Materials,and Greeting Cards.

The Correspondence Series is separated into family and non-family. Non-family correspondence includes both personal and professional letters. Because of the nature of his job, much of Fletcher Howington's letters fall under both categories. Both Fletcher Howington and his father A.F. Howington kept carbon copies of much of their outgoing correspondence, allowing one to often see both sides of letters between family members and on business matters.

The families corresponded heavily, especially while Jean Howington's four brothers served in World War II. Howington's brother Riley also served in the U.S. Army Air Force and died in France in 1944. They served in various branches and world theaters, creating a fairly comprehensive depiction of the soldier experience during the war, including a first-hand account of the Nuremberg Trials. Some of this correspondence is third party, to Jean Howington's parents or to the family at large.

It should be noted that Jean and Fletcher Howington often drafted responses to correspondence on the received card or letter, or on the reverse of other papers.

Sermons and church bulletins make up the bulk of the collection. The Sermons series includes both final versions, drafts, and related research. The sermons are mostly organized into numbered binders. A ledger book contains the key and index to sermon organization and a list of weddings, baptisms, and members received. These records run from 1937 to 1992 and are listed by order preached, as well as by date/location. The Family Papers series relates to the immediate family of Fletcher and Jean Howington. It includes term papers from undergraduate and graduate work, school report cards, and scrapbooks. Also included are papers related to family events, such as reunions and the purchase of a memorial window in Monroeville.

The Ministry Activities Series covers documents related to Fletcher Howington's ministerial work, but not specifically sermons or administrative issues. These include records from weddings and funerals, including eulogies, lesson plans from the Saturday School for Preachers and bible studies, and research on theological issues among the congregation. Examples of this research are on topics of communism and racial segregation, though related correspondence may be found in the Correspondence Series.

The Griffith and Howington Family series includes items belonging to both A.F. and Cora Kelly Howington, and Lee and Janie T. Griffith, as well as other family members. There are letters, sermons, business documents, and miscellaneous items.

The Greeting Cards series is mostly loose and unorganized. Some remain bundled by the Howington family, by year or holiday.


  • 1826 - 1999
  • Majority of material found within 1938 - 1978


Biographical / Historical

Arthur Fletcher Howington Jr., B.A., B.Div., M.Div., was born August 21, 1915, in Eclectic, Alabama, the second child of Methodist circuit minister A. F. Howington and his wife, Cora Kelly. He had one older sister, Maybeth, and two younger siblings, Nelle and Hartwell (Riley). He graduated from Elmore County High School in 1934. He received a B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College in 1939. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity and a Master of Divinity degree in 1972 from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University.

Fletcher Howington began his ministry with the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1936 as a student pastor at Birmingham-Southern College. Howington took over his father's preaching circuit in Beatrice, Alabama, upon his death in 1938. He also served in Titus, Alabama, and Dallas, Georgia, during this time.

In December 1939, Howington married Laura Jean Griffith of Eclectic, Alabama. They had two children, Arthur Fletcher, III, and Lee Riley.

Howington served churches in Pineapple, Selma, York, Monroeville, Mobile, Wetumpka, Tallassee, Geneva, and Montgomery, Alabama. From 1972-1974, he served as Troy District Superintendent. He became Executive Director of the Blue Lake Assembly in 1974, serving until his retirement in 1986. During his retirement, he served as pastor of Watson's Chapel Church in Elmore County.

Howington dealt with a variety of contemporary and political issues among his congregation, including war, morality, McCarthyism, and racism. He was a staunch supporter of Thomas Lane Butts during the first Methodist church trial in the past century; Butts was later acquitted of all charges.

Fletcher died in Eclectic, Alabama, on August 26, 1999. Jean Howington died in 2005.


20.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, writings, sermons, church bulletins, and personal financial papers relating to this Methodist minister and his wife in Alabama.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Arthur Howington, 2003 and 2004

Processing Information

Processed by Marliese Thomas, Makiba Foster, and Robert Britton. Updated and reformatted by Donnelly Lancaster Walton.
Guide to the Fletcher and Jean Howington Family papers
July 2009; revised and updated 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266